“No Fault- No Failing Love” 1 Cor. 13 2/3/13
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When you miss the boat on love you are nothing. We all know that, and so everyone of us has this innate desire to love. We long for love from our parents, from our friends, from our spouse, from our children, from our grandchildren, from our church. On the other hand, if you have love, you have found the most excellent way- the one thing that lasts beyond faith- which stops in heaven; or hope which stops when we have our hopes fulfilled. It is the greatest gift, the greatest blessing, the greatest thing a person can have and to these Corinthians who were divisive, proud, unappreciative of each other’s gifts and differences- it was sadly lacking.
I believe everything said here. I believe if you have the greatest economy in the world- but you don’t have love- it’s worth nothing. You can have millions but if you don’t have love- it’s not worth much at all. J Paul Gettys- was at one time the richest man in America. He was married 5 times and his family hated him. At the end of his life he said he would trade all of his money for someone to love. In the movie “For Love of the Game” the baseball star pitched a no-hitter but it was meaningless because he had no one with whom he could share the joy.
You can be a great beauty- like Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole Smith, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, or whoever. You can have all the world admire you- but if you don’t have love it is nothing. Love is not the same as admiration.
You can have all the thrills of life- you can be a stunt man, you can be a mountain climber, you can be a skydiver, but without love it is nothing. Jimmy Broyden is on the board of the Stunt Man’s Hall Fame- he has lived on the edge of film-making- doing the wrecks and stunts you have seen for Harrison Ford, Will Smith, Jean Claud Van Damme and more. But he was a drug addict for 17 years and has been clean for 15 years. He would say all the stunts and adventures in the world are worth nothing without love. Gods’ love changed him, and It changes us.
You can be brilliant- make straight As, get your doctorate, write books- but if you do not have love you are nothing- you are empty at the end of the day. Paul said “If I can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge… but do not have love I am nothing.” Brilliance Is no substitute for love. I might add- if you are technologically savvy have a thousand friends on facebook, a thousand who follow you on twitter, have an ipad, and iphone, a macbook pro, do facetime, but if you do not have God’s unconditional love- and also respond in love- you are nothing. See knowledge puffs up- but love builds up. Love is not proud and does not boast.
William Carey was one of the greatest missionaries and was a truly great linguist- translating portions of the Bible into 34 different languages. He was known for his love for the people. Once a British lord tried to make fun of his humble beginnings saying, “I suppose, Mr. Carey that you once worked as a shoemaker.” Carey replied, “No your lordship- only a cobbler”- a repairer of shoes not a maker of them.
The great thing is- just like faith is available to everyone, hope is available to everyone, and so is love. This is the whole point of Paul’s work. Paul could say this because Paul was popular, brilliant, well educated, had riches, was a Roman citizen with status, had been through many adventures- but the one thing that brought him fulfillment, peace, strength, grace, was love. It was first the love of God- knowing that God loved him and he was not alone in all this; but second the ability to love neighbor. This is available to the prettiest person and the homliest; the most popular person and the person who is totally left out; the richest and the poorest. It is this that we strive after, and it is this quest for love that will keep us hungering and thirsting after God and each other until we find it.
LOVE IS NOT- There are some things that Paul says love is not.
1) It is Not- Self-Sacrifice- that is a manifestation of God’s love- but not the same. Martyrdom- may be an indication of love- but it is not to be confused with it- any more than giving a toy to a kid or a car to a teenager is love. So Paul says, “If I surrender my body to the flames but have not love I am nothing.”
2) It is Not- Faith- You can have faith to move mountains but not have love. That is scary for some people- Doug Nichols- could not reach anyone until he got tuberculosis and helped a man no one else would help. Then everyone listened.
3) It is Not- Freedom from holiness- It is not simply tolerance. Tolerance is a great goal within limits, and certainly is better than harshness or meanness. We need to respect other people- all people are made in God’s image, no one should degrade another person’s being. But some think that if they tolerate all things- they are loving others. Paul said love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love and holiness are not opposites but go together and must always be held in balance.
4) It is Not Generosity- helping those who are oppressed or poor is not the same as love. He said, “If I give all I possess to the poor” but have not love I am nothing.
5) It is Not Sexuality- The love Paul is talking about here is not the love of a man for a woman (eros) but it is unconditional love (agape). There is a huge difference between lust, attraction, and true love. So implied here is what you see in so many movies today- you can have multiple relationships and still not have true love.
SO WHAT IS LOVE? The positive side involves patience, protecting, trusting, and persevering. But of all these Paul uses about 6 different adjectives to tell us that love is a lasting thing, that makes us last. Faith and hope fade- Prophecy and gifts fade- but love remains. Love goes beyond this earth. Websters defines it as “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.”
Augustine said that he was “in love with love”- he was seeking love his whole life. He sought it in pleasure, he sought it in wine-women-and song- but he finally found real love in God and when you find it in God you cannot help but wanting others to experience that love as well. The most important thing you can do is to recognize that you are loved, and then love both God and neighbor in return. Paul’s plea to the Corinthians- is also his plea for us- it is the plea of John, of Peter, of Jesus- love God and love one another.